The aura of living in Central America has been warmly welcomed by American retires who are looking for a safe and cool place to spend their golden years. It is not only because of the tropical jungles, virgin rain forests, or lively cities that make it one of the best places to spend retirement in Central America.
Belize has one of the best retiree programs in the world. The Belizean government through the Qualified Retired Persons [QRP] program offers all qualified retirees an exemption from taxes on all income that is obtained from sources outside the country, whether such income is remitted to the country or not, and whether such income is active or passive.
Belize qualified retired person residency
First things first, if you need a visa to live in Belize, contact the Immigration in Belmopan City and the Immigration and Nationality Department Ministry of National Security. You can get in touch with this department through its official website at ins.gov.bz. You should submit your Belize retirement visa application yourself.
The QRP program is the second-most-popular method of getting permanent residency in Belize. Although this program is made for people who want to retire in the country, you can still take advantage of this program if you are at least 45 years old.
The application fee for this program is around $1000. To keep your QRP status, you must spend at least one month of the year in the country. You are also required to make a monthly deposit of $2,000 or a single deposit of $24,000 a year in a Belizean bank. You don’t have to spend the money in Belize but just to deposit it in a Belizean bank.
Furthermore, you should be able to prove that you receive a regular payment, pension, or annuity of $24,000 per year or deposit a monthly income of at least $2000 per month. Alternatively, that you can produce evidence that you have adequate assets to sustain yourself otherwise. Also, you are required to pass a medical check and show an FBI background check.
You are not taxed on capital gains or international income as a beneficiary of the Belizean Qualified Retired Person Residency program. Apart from the tax benefits, qualified retirees can import their household appliances and personal goods like cars, planes, and boats into Belize without paying import duties or paying taxes on the goods they import into the country their first year as a QRP resident.
Moving to Belize
When you are moving to Belize, you can consider renting a home than purchasing a property. Foreign retirees are particularly interested in renting properties in areas like Corozal, Ambergris Caye, San Ignacio, and Placencia.
You can find a property for rent through real estate agencies, but the best deals are found via word of mouth. You can ask your friend in the local expat community or online forums for suggestions and recommendations.
On the flip side, if you decide to buy a property, things may become difficult for you because Belize doesn’t have a multiple listing service. If you do not know the type of property to buy, we recommend you liaise with several real estate agents and look at the properties available.
Do not purchase a property from the first agent you meet with. In unregulated markets such as Belize, listings are not shared. An agent can show you the properties that he or she has listed, but that same property can be listed by another agent, sometimes at a different price.
How to be a legal resident
When you get to Belize, you are automatically given a 30-day tourist visa. This visa can be renewed monthly for up to 12 months. The cost of renewing the visa is $25/month for the first six months and $50/month for the subsequent six months.
Whenever you renew this visa, you may be required to show that you are financially capable, meaning that you must be making a daily income of at least $60 or $1,800 per month. You can apply for permanent residency in Belize after renewing your tourist visa for 12 months. When you get permanent residency, you can work and live in Belize indefinitely.
How much does it cost to retire in Belize?
The cost of living in Belize appears to be 31% cheaper than residing in the United States. But if judged than Central American standards, it is relatively expensive. Just like living anywhere in the world, the cost of living depends largely on your lifestyle.
Choices in transportation, utilities, and housing can make a large difference in the monthly costs. That being said, you can live comfortably on $1,500 a month. Even a frugal and thrifty couple can live well on $1,200 a month.